Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum by Railtrack (RI 20A)


  We set out in our Network Management Statement an outline of how we assess the different commercial and social benefits of major projects.

  The process begins with an assessment of the viability of the options emerging from the route strategy analysis process, which takes place with our customers both on a financial and non-financial basis. The financial benefits are calculated at the level of the rail industry as a whole and use a comparison of the capital costs of the project with the changes in operating costs and farebox income to derive financial measures such as net present values.

  The social and environmental benefits of projects are assessed at pre-feasibility stage. We have developed a methodology which is aligned with those used by the Government and EU. It provides a monetary quantification which calculates the impact of the growth in passenger or freight usage generated by a project. This places a value on impacts such as a reduction in accidents, noise or congestion. It then examines the change in polluting emissions which would occur if a project was pursued. Finally a qualitative assessment is provided of the impacts for which no monetary quantification is possible such as accessibility, safety or integration. The analysis does not, however, place any social value on the improved journey quality which might occur due to decreased crowding on services.

  The results of these assessments are then used to prioritise the schemes which we intend to pursue. The rankings of our highest priority enhancement schemes are set out below.


    1.  North Transpennine route upgrade

    2.  East Coast main line upgrade (Phases two and three)

    3.  West Anglia Route Modernisation

    4.  Great Western upgrade (phase one)

    5.  Manchester area capacity development

    6.  London commuter area capacity-south east

    7.  Coventry Birmingham route capacity upgrade

    8.  Brighton main line

    9.  London commuter area capacity-south west

  10.  London commuter area capacity-south central


    1.  North Transpennine route upgrade

    2.  West Anglia Route Modernisation

    3.  East Coast main line upgrade (Phases two and three)

    4.  Manchester area capacity development

    5.  Great Western upgrade (phase one)

    6.  Coventry Birmingham route capacity upgrade

    7.  London commuter area capacity-south east

    8.  Brighton main line

    9.  London commuter area capacity-south west

  10.  London commuter area capacity-south central

  Further details of this approach and case studies for the Transpennine upgrade and the West Anglia Route modernisation are outlined in our 2000 Network Management Statement.


  Around 50 per cent of train accidents are caused by acts of vandalism, causing over 11,000 hours of train delays in 1999-2000, while 60 to 80 trespassers are killed on Railtrack land each year. Trespass and vandalism (T&V) is not merely a problem for the railway, but for society as a whole. It is not, therefore, in Railtrack's control to deliver a T&V-free railway. However, Railtrack—working with a range of partners—is leading a range of initiatives to reduce T&V on the network.

  Railtrack has invested £40 million over the last three years improving security at 800 stations across the network through the installation of closed circuit television (CCTV), emergency help points and improved lighting. The company has also doubled its fencing budget to £20 million in 1999-2000 in an effort to keep trespassers away from the railway.

  In 1998 Railtrack launched "Operation Scarecrow", which brings together staff from Railtrack and train operators and the British Transport Police. Under the scheme, teams regularly patrol T&V hotspots-particularly during school half-term and holidays-to deter offenders and check fencing and other lineside safety equipment. This ongoing programme is now supported by "eye in the sky" helicopter surveillance. The helicopter, funded by Railtrack, carries thermal imaging equipment and video cameras. Information on trespassers spotted from the helicopter is relayed to the British Transport Police and Railtrack staff on the ground.

  Last month Railtrack launched an anti-T&V teachers' pack to 22,000 schools located near the railway. The pack, compiled in consultation with leading educational experts, included leaflets, information and support material for teachers and parents. It follows the launch in April 2000 of the "Track Off!" anti-T&V poster and video campaign, which was supported by Railtrack, the Health and Safety Executive, rail unions and train operating companies.

  Railtrack also sponsors training programmes at Charlton Athletic and West Ham United football clubs, to encourage children away from the railway and towards more constructive leisure-time activities. In June 2000 the company sponsored a weekend football competition for children from the Brighton to Chichester, during which the Railtrack "battle bus" and staff were on hand to reinforce the safety message.

  Ninety per cent of railway crime is committed by children under 17 years of age. Schools, therefore, are a major focus for anti-T&V activity. Railtrack supports an educational drama for 10 to 12 year olds entitled, "I Dare You!", which incorporates powerful anti-T&V messages. Approximately 150,000 school children have seen the drama since its launch in 1996. In addition, over 3,000 schools each year are visited by railway staff to discuss rail safety with teachers and school children. In March 2000 Railtrack launched its education website,, which seeks to raise children's awareness of the dangers of T&V.

  Railtrack is committed to continuing and building upon these initiatives to maximise the effectiveness of its anti-T&V activities.


  The number of broken rails on the network fell from 755 in 1996-97 to 710 in 1997-98, before rising over the following two years to 937 in 1998-99, up 22 per cent from the previous year.

  Railtrack research identified a close correlation between the increasing number of broken rails on the network and the growth in passenger and freight traffic. Other factors include traffic tonnage, dynamic loading (particularly associated with wheel flats), the age of the track and maintenance practices.

  Railtrack intends to reduce the annual number of broken rails to 500 over the next 10 years, based on the current industry growth rate continuing over that period. Last year the company put in place a three year £90 million recovery plan, in partnership with our contractors, which helped reduce the number of broken rails by four per cent in 1999-2000. Progress in this area has accelerated over the first quarter of 2000-01, when the number of broken rails was 37 per cent down on the same period last year. Track quality is now just 1.1 per cent short of the 2001 target agreed with the Rail Regulator.

  The three year plan involves investment in rail renewals, wheel impact devices and other technological improvements to improve Railtrack's detection, replacement and prevention of broken rails. Essential elements of the programme include re-railing in tunnels and other target locations; additional use of ultrasonic test equipment; upgrading of insulated block joints; cold bolt hole expansion and rail grinding.

  The national trend in broken rails is reflected in the Manchester area, where the number of broken rails is now decreasing. There has been a significant problem in recent years, caused primarily by the increase in freight traffic (which has been growing year-on-year by over 10 per cent) and inadequate maintenance by British Railways Board in the closing years of its stewardship of the network.

  Railtrack has been working with a new contractor—First Engineering—in the Manchester area since April 2000 and accelerated its track renewal and ultrasonic testing programme. In the first quarter of the current financial year there were four broken rails in the area, compared with 12 in the same period in 1999-2000. Across the Railtrack North West zone broken rails have been almost halved in number from 31 to 16.


  Railtrack is committed to ensuring that new vehicles are brought onto the network as quickly as possible and we believe that we have clear and flexible processes to achieve this. However, this is not a straightforward issue because the rail network is not standardised across the country. This means that our procedures cannot be standardised either.

  We have to work with the reality of this position, which we all accept is difficult. The best way to do this is for all parties to work closely together and when this happens vehicles enter service much more quickly.

  We have put a number of processes in place to provide regular meetings and advice from dedicated personnel to manufacturers to assist them in preparing their cases for acceptance. Despite these efforts we regularly receive incomplete and poor quality submissions for vehicle acceptance. There have also been a considerable number of instances when manufacturers have delayed and deferred submitting their cases which undermines our acceptance procedures and is a cause of delay outside our control.

  We will continue to look at ways of making the process easier for manufacturers and as part of this we started work in January on our £5 million national gauging project. This involves collecting and validating all the data on clearances of our structures. When it is completed in December 2002 it will give manufacturers details of the dimensions of trains which can be accepted on particular routes at the touch of a button.

  We are working hard to minimise delays to the new trains coming onto the network and are always keen to work constructively with manufacturers to ensure their vehicles are accepted with a minimum of delay. However, it remains the case that this is a difficult issue which is not susceptible to an easy answer.

June 2000



ClassOperator ManufacturerStage reached
57 (Diesel)Freightliner Brush TractionIn service
66 (Diesel)EWSGeneral Motors In service
66 (Diesel)Freightliner General MotorsIn service
67 (Diesel)EWSGeneral Motors In service
92 (Electric)EWSBrush Traction In service
Diesel units
168ChilternAdtranz In service
168/1ChilternAdtranz Being tested
170MMLAdtranz In service *
170CentralAdtranz In service *
170AngliaAdtranz In service *
170ScotRailAdtranz In service *
175First North Western AlstomIn service *
Electric units
325Royal Mail/EWSAdtranz In service
332Heathrow Express SiemensIn service
333Northern SpiritSiemens Being tested
334ScotRailAlstom In service *
Interim (non-passenger)
357LTSAdtranz In service *
365Connex/WAGNAdtranz In service
373/2GNERAlstom In service *
375ConnexAdtranz Being tested
458South West Trains AlstomIn service *
460Gatwick ExpressAlstom In service *
465/6-10 carConnexAdtranz In service*

  * but some special controls.

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Prepared 27 April 2001